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Tom Harris

Writer of edgy Middle Grade & Young Adult Fiction

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An Ode to Tony Hart: The Amber Gallery

An Ode to the Selfless: Aftermath of a Book Launch

On September the 8th, 2017, Blackwell’s Bookshop in Portsmouth gave birth to The Amber Moon Part One: Of Shadows & Dragons.

[Brilliant Pic by Claire Tewkesbury]

Launch Pic 3

The thing about these events is that however much they help to massage a writer’s ego that has been battered more times than Friday-night cod fillets, none of it happens without the selfless support of others…

So here’s my ode to those who really made Friday night what it was…

The brilliant Jo and her team at Blackwell’s are simply extraordinary! For weeks now, I’ve been delivering things, hoarding and cluttering up the office and they’re still talking to me! The professionalism, expertise and creative drive they have to set up the shop and make it look so resplendent in amber, is dizzying! Nothing is too small a request and they go out of their way to make the big day as special as possible, for everyone in attendance.

A few weeks ago, some friends at work – at The University of Portsmouth Students’ Union – Fiona ‘Marvel’ Cook and Stuart ‘Pullman’ Owens – approached me, offering their time and skills to help out at the launch. We had a bit of a chat, and as both are fine bakers/cake makers, amongst the other stuff they are brilliant at, they took on the task of creating these delicious beauties….

The Amber Moon Mirror Glaze:

[Cake by Stuart Owens]

Amber Moon Cake

Doctor Tan’s Hot Chocolate and Snow & Rosie Boots’ Fairy Cupcakes:

[Cake & Pic by Fiona Cook]

Tan and Rosie Cupcakes

Then came Brendan ‘DJ Cheddar: For One Night Only’ McCarthy who stepped up to help out with the music for the After Party at my Cricket Club. Without his help, and giving up his time, the evening would not have provided moments that made me laugh so hard, I think I broke more ribs than I own…

[Pic sourced from The Archives of DJ Cheddar courtesy of Brendan McCarthy]

DJ CHEDDAR

The support didn’t stop there and my work colleagues from the Student Union, Sport and Rec and the wider University were amazing in promoting the launch for me on social media, wish me well with private messages, emails and texts. So many of them came to the event, despite the weather and the general fatigue at the end of yet another busy week ahead of Freshers’ Week 2017.

I started playing cricket for US Portsmouth three seasons ago. My teammates and their families are amazingly supportive and bloody hilarious! Laughing that hard is truly good for the soul, and I am very lucky to be able to do that pretty much every day I spend with this lot! They turned out in their numbers at Blackwell’s and at the after party back at the club, where Messrs Toms and Gadd outdid themselves with some very high brow performance pieces, including the very best of what the UK has to offer in terms of impromptu drama and song.

United Services CC

Huge thanks to Ross, for being a terrific host as always and allowing us the freedom to caterwaul our way deep into the night!

So many more of my family and friends, including my old MA buddies also braved a miserable Friday at rush hour to help me celebrate. Even those who couldn’t attend, have been amazing with their messages of support and sharing the event on social media channels.

You come to realise that the real stars of any book launch are the people behind the scenes, your friends and your guests who make everything seem so much more real and so very special. So, thanks to the unseen, the selfless and the giving… It’s a privilege to be a part of your story, however large or small the part you give me to play…

Tom

*Look out for a follow-up post later this week including all the great photos and pics from the launch

 

 

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The Amber Moon Part One: Of Shadows & Dragons – Cover Reveal

So here it is, the brand new cover for The Amber Moon Part One: Of Shadows & Dragons. Really pleased with it and very excited ahead of the Kindle release and the Paperback launch. News on both coming very soon!

AmberMoonPartOneFrontCover

Front Cover Image
© Cornelius20
ID 66864264 | Dreamstime.com

THE AMBER MOON PART ONE: OF SHADOWS & DRAGONS – coming soon!

The Third and penultimate book in my Wings, Wands & Weird Worlds series will be available on Kindle and in Paperback soon. I’ll keep you posted on the release dates and the all important cover reveal in the coming weeks, but to whet your appetite here is the back cover blurb…

Over four deadly trials on the island of Mataquin, North and Rosie must steal four amber mosaics which are also the final pieces in Tan’s deadly endgame to awaken the legendary and mythical power of the Amber Room.
With the threat of The End Book still hanging over them and those they love; Rosie and North must battle other thieves and fairies to stay alive and win through the trials. Battling Dragons and Shadows is hard enough, but when an arranged marriage forced upon them by the rites of ancient fairy lore comes to light, it threatens to tear apart their partnership forever.
North and Rosie must prevail and buy time enough for the spies of the Ange Gardien to breach the powerful enchantments that shield the land of Rosie’s birthplace, the land of the three moons, and deliver the vital chain message, that could change their fate and that of the known universe.
Welcome to The Thief Trials…

#RISE: EP7: EATING DAD

They want me out there. Think that they can lure me to them.

Dad always warned me about two for one deals.

My heart is breaking as they take a bite from his shoulder. The flesh tears. He smiles through it all and then he’s gone.

I just watched my dad get eaten. Part of me hears the ping of a message, but I can’t take my eyes off what is happening. What is wrong with me?

I shake it off as they snarl, their bloodied muzzles taunting me at the glass. I can smell the metallic crimson, wafting through the broken rubber seals.They’ve torn him to pieces.

They may have done this, but I know who’s truly to blame…

Crowley.

He’ll pay for this.

I stare into their dead, congealed eyes as I pull the curtains closed on reality and I dart back to my laptop.

A new message. J is back online.

I know about the field.

How? What? I don’t type the words, cause my hands are still trembling…

It is some time before I reply…

Okay.

Okay. Let’s meet.

Meet?

Let’s meet. You don’t have long.

Don’t have long? What does he know?

What happens when I turn 14?

There’s no reply to that. Maybe he doesn’t know.

Meet at the field. Meet in 4.

I sit back in my chair and this time it isn’t Crowley’s government hackers who break the connection. It’s me.

I slap my laptop shut and bag up what’s left of my life.

I take one last look at the curtains, imagining the horror playing out beyond the window and with tears rolling down my cheeks, I take a deep breath and head for the door…

#RISE

#MARIGOLDS

Brain Feeding: A Christmas Carol

‘I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.’

Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol, Stave 4, Dec 19, 1843

marley-is-dead

A Christmas Carol has spurned many adaptations on the big and small screen and there are many versions I recall. In 1938 Reginald Owen & Gene & Kathleen Lockhart were among the cast and in 1951 Alastair Sims famously donned Ebenezer’s nerdy night cap. Albert Finney got all musical on us in 1970. Mickey Mouse had a go too as did The Muppets and Michael Caine in 1992, taking us right through to Jim Carrey and Robert Zemeckis’ animated interpretation in 2009…but there’s nothing like reading the book.

Don’t get me wrong, I watch Scrooged every Christmas, with the brilliant Karen Allen supporting Bill Murray’s wickedly funny turn in the lead role. It’s a great Christmas movie, but my Brain Feeding seasonal recommendation has to be the original classic, the inspiration for all of the forementioned.

So say goodbye to chapters and hello to staves and immerse your minds in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, in all its whimsical splendour.

‘Old Marley was as dead as a doornail. Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know of my own knowledge what there is particularly dead about a doornail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade.’

Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol, Stave 1, Dec 19, 1843

It’s a pretty quick read actually, so it’s ideal to tuck into in front of the fire as the family drift off for an afternoon snoring contest. So if you wish to visit the ghosts of literary past, turn your attention to this masterpiece. Turn away from the box of goggle for a moment and get inspired this festive season by the masterful wordsmith that is Mr. Charles Dickens.

Merry Christmas

Tom

a-grave-mistake

 

#RISE – My new Blog Series

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW SERIES:

A couple of years ago I wrote a short piece for a Day of the Dead event which I performed at The Square Tower as part of the Portsmouth Bookfest programme. It was a fantasy-horror piece about a government necromancer and a band of teenage apostles who must save humanity from extinction. It was called #RISE.

It went down okay and I’ve always thought there was potential with the concept but it never really found a home or fitted in anywhere. A bit like a three-legged puppy doing twister, it was something that I knew wasn’t going anywhere fast, but I couldn’t stop going back to it, to check if it was alright.

Then, this happened…

I was out walking the streets late at night in Old Portsmouth, when I came across a mysterious woman wearing a cloak. She followed me for some time down dark alleys and through derelict building sites, her breathing ragged and heavy at my back.

alleyway-old-pompey

Finally, heart pounding and mouth drier than a shop bought Victoria sponge, I turned to face her. The old crone coughed and reached out to me. ‘You dropped this on the bus,’ she cackled. When she opened her hand I was surprised to see my dentures sitting in her palm. ‘Dank do,’ I replied, gummily and she went about her business.

Anyway, it was when I got back later that night that I decided to try out #Rise, as a Blog Series. Was the strange meeting with the old crone the reason behind this decision to blog again or was it just guilt, boredom or being constantly nagged by friends that if I don’t blog then literary agents and publishers will think I’m a lazy tosser?

I guess we’ll never really know…

#RISE – Coming Soon

October 2016

Who will you vote for?

#Rise #Marigolds

   

I’m not being funny, but you have to…

The world is full of criticism.

The world is full of euphoria.

To find a balanced view in a world now ruled by the 5-star-review, is tough, so all we can ever expect, at best, is honesty. And it’s all you hope for when you receive reviews of your own work from critique partners & readers.

So, in 2016, I really want to share my honest recommendations in terms of books, movies, TV, theatre, sport, places to visit & all of the creative stuff that have a huge bearing and influence on my work. The stuff that gets into your bones and inspires…Those rare times when heart, not head, is compelled to shout it from the rooftops. The stuff that makes you say…

I’m not being funny, but you have to…

So, watch this space for honesty…coming soon

Tom

 

Writing Tips for Christmas Day

Christmas R2Many writers have to work two if not more jobs and are used to working on their W.I.P’s (work-in-progress) in mornings, evenings and weekends around their ‘day-job’ schedule, grabbing any spare time they can in the few quiet moments that exist in a modern life.

Despite the hectic work schedule of any household running a faultless Christmas Day of family entertainment, the day itself can throw up some rare opportunities to steal a few moments to plough on with that next writing project. So if you like a challenge, here’s my 5 top tips on stealing time to write this Christmas Day.

Christmas Red Leaf

1/The Early Turkey Escapes the Cleaver: Without doubt your best chance to find that window of serenity will be in the early hours. So set that alarm, sneak downstairs and use subtle lamplight and a slightly parted curtain to get you off to a 2 hour belter of a start to the day. The solitude won’t last, so get yourself a brew and get to work, before breakfast, present opening and tales of drunken family antics from Christmas Eve dull your inspiration. Depending on your family, this may have to be as early as 5am, but it’ll put you in an amazing mood to tackle the day ahead.

2/The Toilet Break: Don’t be ashamed, many people do their best thinking on the bog, and it gives you a locked door to hide behind. Better suited to print out edits rather than laptop work, but who cares, really? As long as the laptop isn’t over heating on your ass – literally! Over the course of the day anyone can get away with a good hour in the crapper – 6 x 10 minute breaks should suffice without your family posting you as M.I.A. That’s an hour of time on your new novel, in exchange for a few funny looks from people who will be so drunk at the end of the day, they’ll think they’ve imagined it in a very boring dream. The kids will just think you’ve got the shits, no biggie! Wear gloves, make up a tummy bug, but you’ll be glad you did it.

Christmas Bronze Glitter Balls

3/ The quantum mechanics of solace: Whilst the family snooze in the afternoon, after copious amounts of food and too much wine, put on a Bond film. Doesn’t matter which one, but make sure it’s one you know well. This plan will entail you having kept your alcohol intake in check, but grab a shower if you’ve let it slip with the Bucks Fizz. Grab a coffee, bottle of water, and you can even work in the living room in full view if you can withstand the odd interjection from a snoring relative or clingy child, but this period could prove fruitful with a possible hour of work up for grabs.

4/ When Hell Freezes over: It’s going to happen, so don’t fight it. They can’t hold you back anymore. Make it work for you. Turn your back and slam the door if you have to, but Disney’s ‘Frozen’ will find its way onto your TV at some stage during the day. Allow your mind to wander into your fantasy world at the back of the room and don’t let them in, don’t let them see. As the rest of the family murder a succession of catchy little ditties that have driven some to drink, some to X Factor auditions and others into asylums be the good person you always have to be and write. Put on the sing-a-long version and let everything fade away and take 1:42:00’s worth of time for yourself, for a bit of light editing. And don’t be too hard on yourself if your concentration is not absolute and you make the odd mistake, just let it go; the misplaced colon never bothered me anyway…

Christmas Flower Ball

5/The Nakatomi Principle: Christmas night is a time for festive family fun, but we’re a predictable lot aren’t we, so when the Crimbo movie arguments begin, vote for Die Hard, and reluctantly withdraw to the back of the room. The familiar plot and explosions will not eat into a valuable 2:12:00 of writing time and let your weary fingers guide you through the final hours of a productive Christmas of writing. Employ the Nakatomi principle and reap the dividends – Yippee-Ki-Yay Mother…sorry Mr McClane, none of that language here please…this is a family show.

Merry Christmas

Tom

 

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